2012 NFL Schedule: Highlighting Andrew Luck's Toughest Challenges

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistApril 16, 2012

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 02:  Andrew Luck #12 of the Stanford Cardinal prepares to snap the football during the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl against the Oklahoma State Cowboys on January 2, 2012 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

There won't be a honeymoon period for Andrew Luck in his first season with the Indianapolis Colts. Rather, it will be a trial by fire from day one for the likely first overall pick.

As if it wouldn't be hard enough for a rookie making the jump to the NFL, Luck has a depleted Colts offense to work with, and opposing defensive coordinators know it.

They'll be coming after the young signal-caller this year, and Luck will have to learn the tricks of the trade pretty quickly.

Of course, if any rookie entering the league is capable of doing so, it's Luck. However, he might want to get used to sitting on his butt after a large majority of passing plays.

Let's take a look at some of the bigger tests he'll face this season.


Houston Texans (Twice)

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 06: Linebacker Brian Cushing #56 of the Houston Texans celebrates after stopping the run of the Cleveland Browns on November 6, 2011 at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas.(Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)
Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images

Houston has one of the league's best defenses, plain and simple. Even without the departed Mario Williams, they still get after the passer and finished sixth in the NFL with 44 sacks last season.

Luck will have a steep task trying to crack this defense twice in 2012. In the AFC South, the Texans are the new Colts.


Green Bay Packers

CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 18:   Charles Woodson #21 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates after recovering a fumble against the Carolina Panthers during their game at Bank of America Stadium on September 18, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Str
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Green Bay didn't have a very good defense last year, but they did lead the NFL with a whopping 31 interceptions, which was eight more than any other team in the league. Players like Charles Woodson are experts in baiting opposing quarterbacks—especially the young ones.

If Green Bay can rediscover the pass rush that made its defense so good in 2010, they'll be a tough task for the young Luck. That, and trying to keep up with Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense is a tough task for any quarterback.


Detroit Lions

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 18:  Ndamukong Suh #90 of the Detroit Lions celebrates after they came from behind to beat the Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum on December 18, 2011 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Lions have one of the better defensive lines in the NFL, and young players like Ndmakong Suh, Corey Williams and Nick Fairley give the team a scary rush right up the middle of the line. This is a surefire way to knock any quarterback out of rhythm.

With Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch coming off the edge, the Lions get after the quarterback. Luck may find himself a bit sore after this one.


New England Patriots

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 05:  Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots looks on against the New York Giants during Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

The team's secondary wasn't very good last year. However, New England has Bill Belichick, master strategist, and they still finished 2011 with 40 sacks and 23 interceptions (tied for second in the NFL). 

Much like the Packers, the Patriots have an explosive offense that puts pressure on opposing offenses by constantly putting points on the board. Therefore, the real test for Luck won't be beating the Patriots.

No, just keeping it close will be his mission.


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